Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — A federal judge appointed by George W. Bush has refused to grant an injunction to a Mennonite-owned manufacturing company that sought an exemption from Obamacare’s contraception mandate due to its Christian beliefs.
As previously reported, Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, which has 950 employees at its Arkansas, Maryland, Utah, North Carolina and Pennsylvania locations, filed suit in December against the mandate, stating that it has never provided insurance coverage for medications that induce abortions, and doesn’t plan on doing so. It explained that terminating a life after conception violates its sincerely-held Mennonite beliefs, stating that it “is an intrinsic evil and a sin against God.”
In October 2012, the board of directors for Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation, which is owned by Norman Hahn and run by his wife and five sons, composed “The Hahn Family Statement on the Sanctity of Human Life.”
“[H]uman life begins at conception (at the point where an egg and sperm unite), and that it is a sacred gift from God, and only God has the right to terminate human life,” the statement outlined.
Its current health care plan specifically excludes “contraceptive prescription drugs” and “any drugs used to abort a pregnancy.”
However, in ruling on the matter, Judge Mitchell Goldberg said that the Hahn family and its manufacturing company were not entitled to an exemption under Obamacare because for-profit businesses that are secular in nature cannot be considered religious entities.
“It would be entirely inconsistent to allow the Hahns to enjoy the benefits of incorporation, while simultaneously piercing the corporate veil for the limited purpose of challenging these regulations,” Goldberg wrote.
He pointed back to the recent ruling in the Hobby Lobby case out of Oklahoma, which similarly denied an injunction to the Christian-owned company simply because its business was not centered on religion. Goldberg stated that Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation then could not claim protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“Whatever burden the Hahns may feel from being involved with a for-profit corporation that provides health insurance that could possibly be used to pay for contraceptives, that burden is simply too indirect to be considered substantial under the RFRA,” he asserted.
Goldberg also dismissed the Hahn’s claim that Women’s Preventative Healthcare section of Obamacare was not a neutral regulation because it allowed for religious exemptions.
“The purpose of the Women’s Preventive Healthcare regulations is not to target religion, but instead to promote public health and gender equality, and plaintiffs have not presented any evidence to the contrary,” he said, also discussing the counseling aspect of the law. “[I]t cannot be said that plaintiffs are being required to fund the advocacy of a viewpoint with which they disagree. Plaintiffs’ concern that a doctor may, in some instances, provide advice to a patient that differs from the Hahns’ religious beliefs is not one protected by the First Amendment.”
However, some disagree with Goldberg’s assessment that businesses run by Christians should not be entitled to an exemption.
“Washington politicians can’t confine our faith to the four walls of our churches alone,” Matt Bowman of Alliance Defending Freedom told One News Now. “Honoring God is important every day in all areas of life, including in our work.”
“People of faith should not be punished for making decisions according to the deepest convictions of that faith,” said Attorney Charles W. Proctor, III, who is representing the Hahn family. “When government grows so invasive to force persons to violate their conscience, government is out of control and clearly outside the bounds of our Constitutions’ Bill of Rights.”